At a media event in New York City today, Facebook gave an update on its video strategy.
The announcement included Showcase, a premium video ad program that affords online video and TV ad buyers “more opportunities” to reach target audiences. Facebook also rolled out new content packages — Food and News — for In-Stream Reserve, a program that places fixed-cost ads in “hundreds” of videos from publishers and creators. (They join the existing Sports, Fashion/Beauty, and Entertainment categories.) Lastly, it unveiled Sponsorships, which allow advertisers to exclusively sponsor a program for U.S. viewers and to optionally have their ads appear in videos with similar themes.
“When we [launched] Facebook Watch over 18 months ago to build a destination for people to come together with friends and family to catch up on video … we started … just in the U.S., [and] made it a closed platform,” said Matthew Henick, head of Facebook’s content strategy. “The main feedback we heard [was] that they wanted a broader and more diverse set of content.”
Showcase — which is now available for campaigns targeting U.S. audiences — includes In-Stream Reserve categories, as well as Sponsorships.
According to Facebook, more than 100 million people in the U.S. watch content eligible for In-Stream Reserve, and 43 percent of that audience is aged 18-34 — a demographic highly coveted by advertisers. (That’s compared with an estimated 28 percent of TV viewers.) Its other leg up over traditional video mediums, Facebook contends, is an abundance of metrics: Nielsen Total Ad Ratings, Digital Ad Ratings, and brand lift offerings both in-house and from Nielsen.
Facebook claims that across 13 brand lift studies, In-Stream Reserve drove positive ad recall lift.
More than 400 million people watch at least one video on Facebook’s video-on-demand Watch service every month and 75 million of those consume at least a minute of content, the company says, with daily viewers averaging about 20 minutes a day. That growth is driven in part by investments in original programming, it asserts, like a new animated comedy series — “Human Discoveries” — starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick, a reboot of MTV’s “The Real World” with local versions in the U.S., Mexico, and Thailand, “Returning the Favor,” “Red Table Talk,” and other programming from publishers including ABC News, CNN, Business Insider, and NowThis.
Showcase’s launch comes as Facebook “reexamin[es] previous commitments” to Watch content, according to Henick. This morning, Digiday reported as much as two-thirds of Watch content won’t be renewed.
“We’re going to continue experimenting with news publishers in Watch and sharing what we learn,” Shelley Venus, Facebook’s video lead for news partnerships, said in a statement. “We’re partnering with these organizations to build sustainable video businesses, where Facebook can be one part of their overall strategy.”